When storing a lawnmower for the autumn or winter, there are different types of solutions. Some people rent a storage unit or store their lawnmowers in their garage, while others leave their mowers outside in the snow and hope for the best. The most vital thing you can do when storing a lawn mower tends to the fuel system. Taking this step will significantly reduce the chance of having problems come the warm season.
No one wants to have to tinker with a broken mower or buy a new one at the start of every season. It is worth it to prepare your lawnmower for the winter as you would with a car or boat, especially if you have an expensive riding mower.
Take the following steps to store your lawnmower to maintain and increase the lifespan of your equipment. Make sure you take all the proper precautions when winterizing your mower.
1. Drain Gas or Add a Fuel Stabilizer
There are two methods for lawn mower storage when it comes to gasoline. You can either leave the gas in the tank and stabilize it, or remove it completely. It is never a good idea to just leave fuel in the tank without any intervention, as it can start to degrade in a month or two and wreak havoc on the carburetor and fuel tank.
Option 1: Remove Gas from a Lawnmower
In certain situations, it is best to remove all the gas from a lawnmower when storing it for the winter. If you are keeping your lawn mower in your basement or inside a storage unit, remove all fuel; otherwise, it can become a fire hazard.
Option 2: Add Fuel Stabilizer to a Lawn Mower
If you are storing the lawnmower in a detached garage or shed, leave a full tank of gas and top it off with a fuel stabilizer. Once the stabilizer is added, run the mower for a couple of minutes to make sure the stabilizer gets into the system.
2. Prevent Mower From Kick-Starting
Before you clean your lawnmower and prep it for storage, make sure you remove the spark plug. This will prevent the mower from being turned on accidentally; the importance of this step cannot be stressed enough.
3. Drain or Change Oil
Change a lawn mower’s oil at the end of every season. The first step is to figure out if you have a two-cylinder or a four-cylinder lawn mower. Two-cylinder motors have the oil and fuel in the same tank, in which case you can drain the oil along with the fuel. With four-cylinder motors, the oil will need to be changed similarly to how you would do so on a car. Reference the lawn mower’s owner manual for specific instructions on how best to do this.
In general, you can follow these steps on most four-cylinder mowers:
- Check the level of the oil by removing the dipstick
- Make sure the oil is warm; if it is not, you can warm it up by running the mower after adding fuel stabilizer or when draining the tank. If you waited for this step and the engine is cold, connect the spark plug temporarily and run the mower for 10-15 minutes.
- Remove the spark plug again if you had to use it to warm up the engine. If your mower has a battery, disconnect it.
- Pull the oil plug and drain the oil into an oil-safe drain pan.
Properly dispose of used oil by bringing it to a recycling facility that can properly dispose of it.
- Add new oil to the tank according to the manufacturer’s recommendation.
- Lawnmower Storage Pro Tip: If you have inconveniently positioned drain plugs, consider purchasing an oil extractor to help with this process.
4. Clean Deck and Undercarriage
A garden hose or a pressure washer on a low setting will work well to clean the lawn mower deck. In theory, grass should be cleaned off after every mow. However, if bits of grass has dried and crusted onto the metal, make sure to remove them before storage. If necessary, take a wire brush, putty knife, or a flat-head screwdriver to scrape off anything that the hose could not clean.
Be careful with the mower blades and make sure to wear thick, durable gloves during this process. Once the undercarriage is clean and dry, use a silicone spray to prevent future build-up and better preserve the lawnmower.
5. Remove and Sharpen Blade
To remove the blade, lean your mower on its side with the carburetor facing up. Find a long-handled wrench that matches the bolt holding the blade in place. If the bolt is stuck in place and corroded, spray on some oil or lubricant and let it sit for a few minutes.
Once removed, sharpen each blade evenly. You do not want to make the mistake of sharpening only one section because this could lead to an uneven lawn. To sharpen, clamp the blade in a vise and use a mill bastard file to file down the blade until it is as sharp as a butter knife.
6. Replace Spark Plug and Air Filter
At this point, the spark plug should already be disconnected. Use a wrench or pliers to completely remove the plug. Take the plug with you to the store to make sure you purchase the correct replacement. Next, screw in the new plug and either reconnect the wire or leave it disconnected for storage.
Before storing a lawnmower for the winter, you will want to either clean or replace the air filter. Some lawnmower filters are made of paper and should always be replaced when they look dirty. Other foam or plastic filters can be cleaned, dried, and then coated with a few tablespoons of oil before being reinstalled. Finally, use a spray lubricant to coat any exposed lawn mower components.
7. Rent a Storage Unit
One of the best ways to keep a lawnmower in good shape is renting a storage unit and storing it when not in use. Stowing a lawnmower in a storage unit ensures that your lawnmower is kept in a secure and clean space from which you can retrieve it whenever you need it!
To drain gas from a lawnmower, do your best to let the tank run dry toward the end of the season. To achieve this, run the mower until it stops and will not restart again. Any remaining fuel can be siphoned out with a turkey baster.